I had the privilege of accompanying a few different groups of young servants through the streets and alleys of a section of Columbia, SC called Five Points on some Friday and Saturday nights for a while. The area is downhill from the main campus of the University of South Carolina, and is full of bars, restaurants and dance clubs. People from every walk of life are there in the afternoon through 9pm or so, and then a more alcohol loving crowd replaces them, and finally, at 2am or so, the crowd shifts to hard core clubbers. The clothing in each crowd is different. Conservative is replaced by skater, then by dresses that are shorter than the high heels.

From late afternoon until the second shift ends, there is a group of men wearing suits and holding Bibles and tracts who are shouting at people that they are going to hell if they don’t get saved. In my days of being a member of crowd number two, my response to these guys was based on two ideas. One idea was the thought that if being a follower of Jesus meant being like these people, I was not interested. Second idea was wondering whether being in hell with cool people was worse, or being in heaven with religious people. Religious people had already convinced me at the age of 16 that what they taught about Jesus was probably not true, because so much of what they had to say about the issues of race and poverty and character (and me) was clearly not true.

I never saw the suited preachers have anyone with them but homeless people, who were wanting money, not church membership. The kids with me had many long conversations and many accurate prophetic words and a few people who stated that they wanted to give their lives to Jesus. Many others were already saved, and prophetic ministry drew them back to earlier decisions with a determination to walk with Jesus in their lives.

I am sure that many more people are interested in meeting a King Who is intent on showing them love and grace and forgiveness and an invitation to abundant life than are interested in gaining new details about how evil and unworthy they are. Usually, people are gathering around alcohol and short sinful relationships with people who don’t know them well because they already feel worthless and rejected.

Every opportunity we take to love each other and to love the lost adds one more bit of evidence to the knowledge base that unbelievers are building in their search for life and purpose and acceptance into family. Don’t miss any of them.

Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:56-58 HCSB ©®)